19 Nov 2018

Small Auckland sandwich shop makes it into top restaurant guide

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:35 pm on 19 November 2018

Truth, Love and Clean Cutlery: A guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of the world features recommendations from some of the best food writers from around the world, and 15 New Zealand restaurants are on the list.

Fort Greene's famous Reuben sandwich

Fort Greene's famous Reuben sandwich Photo: Supplied

By and large they're the usual suspects: Pasture and Amano in Auckland; Sherwood in Queenstown; the Hillside Kitchen in Wellington.

One name on the list really stands out, however: Fort Greene, a little shop on K-Road in Auckland that specialises in sandwiches.

Liam Fox co-owns the eatery with wife Andrea, and tells Afternoons' Jesse Mulligan it started as a scribble on the corner of a napkin. 

"We’re the kind of people that have always eaten sandwiches from day one in our spare time, and one day it just sort of occurred to us that there wasn’t anywhere that specialised in them - so we decided that it would be pretty important to us to be the first ones to do just that."

He says they’ve slowly expanded from a small corner on Ponsonby Road to a bigger premises on K Road, to their new location. 

"We decided we wanted to make everything ourselves, and it’s kind of grown from there I guess. We are three years down the track and we’ve expanded into our new and hopefully final form just down the road … still on K Road. 

"It’s been baby steps for us, I guess it was a combination of care and foresight and apprehension. 

"If I’m being brutally honest, it took Andrea twisting my arm for quite a while to actually convince me we should get out and do our own thing."

They have a simple offering with just a handful of sammies on the menu, and Fox says it's all about quality over quantity. 

"I’ve always felt a bit anxious about big menus, every time I go to restaurant with a big menu I wonder how fresh everything is ...  it also means that all the staff know the menu front to back, it's not a book.

"The most important ingredient for us has always been the bread - hence the expanding into being a bakery as well - and that’s something that people often overlook. 

"We always engage our customers on a personal level as well, because of the simplicity of what we offer, people ask us a lot of questions and we’re more than happy to answer them and we get a lot of good response from our clientele."

He says choosing a favourite sandwich is like choosing between your kids. 

“My favourite at the moment, we’re doing a grilled cheese sandwich with kimchi - homemade kimchi - and it’s quite a simple thing but I’m just in love with fermented stuff obviously, doing sourdough to begin with. 

"Just, there’s something about that umami fermented flavour." 

He says they're not planning on expanding any time soon. 

"But, you know, anything can happen. We just want to keep control of what we have and see where we go."

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